Tuesday, January 12, 2016

On the Soul - Aristotle

(As usual, with Aristotle, I feel like I would have understood this much more in a group.  Or with a qualified professor.  Or both.  So bear with me!)

This covers only part of this work.  The list 'assigned' the first three chapters of Book II and all of Book III. 

In Book II, Aristotle defines what he is talking about when he talks about a 'soul'. 
We have now given an answer to the question, What is soul? - an answer which applies to it in its full extent. It is substance in the sense which corresponds to the definitive formula of a thing's essence. That means that it is 'the essential whatness' of a body of the character just assigned.

I find this interesting in part because of how broadly it applies.  If, say, an organization were to lose its prime mission, we could say that it has lost its soul and we would be completely in line with what Aristotle is talking about.  Or if a musician loses that special something, we may say that he has lost the 'soul' of his music.
And this works when talking about souls, in the sense that Socrates was talking about them, too.  If every person has a unique 'it' that makes them who they are, then surely that is their soul.  When they die, that part is gone.  Or, on a lesser but more tragic note, if that 'it' gets taken away through accident or incident, then their soul also goes away.

In Book III, Aristotle gets into territory that is frankly harder for me to really understand.  He makes a distinction between thinking, perceiving and imagining.  These distinctions are based on whether or not each area can be false or not.  Perceiving cannot be false, while thinking can.  Therefore, thinking is different.  Meanwhile, imagining has to do with the ability to recall past things.
The soul "is analogous to the hand; for as the hand is a tool of tools, so the mind is the form of forms and sense the form of sensible things".  In other words, the soul is the tool that bridges the other distinct areas of thinking, perceiving and imagining. 
I think.  I'll confess, that I felt out of depth with most of Book III. 

I don't think either Aristotle or Socrates did much toward proving what a soul is, or what it does.  Most importantly, I don't think either one made much headway in proving what happens to it after death.

No comments:

Post a Comment